The Erie Community Blood Bank has been providing blood, platelets and other blood products to area hospitals for nearly 50 years. Meeting the demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a big challenge.

About 13,000 people a year donate to the Erie Community Blood Bank, an organization founded by local hospitals. And now helping to provide blood around the entire region.

 Executive Director Steven Beeler said, "We serve about 25 hospitals and health care facilities in western Pennsylvania, western New York, and Ohio."

The blood bank has a core group of dedicated donors. But still, shortages happen. That can lead to canceled surgeries and other problems.

 Beeler said, "We would never have a shortage if everybody who did donate would just roll up their sleeves one more time, or those folks were able to bring a friend once a year to donate. We would probably alleviate all the shortages."

 But for now, maintaining an adequate supply can still be difficult. So this year the blood bank launched a new incentive program giving "points" to attract more donors.

 Beeler said, "They can accumulate those points however they wish and redeem those for gift cards and other items we have in our on-line store."